We know that Black Women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than White women.
But did you know that black women are also more likely to have cancer that metastasizes? In this article, we’ll look at the reasons why.
MD Newsline: Why are women of color more likely to have cancer that metastasizes, as well as triple-negative breast cancer?
Dr. Shaina Rozell: I think the first question, why are they having more cancers that are metastasizing, and that goes back to delayed diagnosis, so you know, it’s all about encouragement and prevention, making sure that patients are getting their mammograms or even advocating for ultrasounds if they have dense breasts, making sure those things are done yearly. There are certain cancers that we actually can prevent. Breast cancer is one of them, but we know that most African-American women are not really seeking to get health care and to get preventative screening tests. Two, it’s fear again, you know, fear from doctor,s, fear of the word cancer. I think the term cancer still has a stigma in the African-American communities. It ultimately translates to death in our communities and so we are afraid of approaching that and trying to seek help. So, we can see a mass and we know it’s there and then it continues to grow and grow and grow until maybe there’s pain and that is what’s bringing them actually to the doctor. I’ve had several patients where they’ve seen them and it’s been there for months but they were afraid, which is understandable. So, I think those are really big keys in trying to bridge that gap, and for better communication for patients and to encourage them actually to get care sooner. Most African-American women, they’re not presenting at stage zero, stage one, where you have higher rates of cure. So, they’re presenting with stage three, stage four, which either leads to metastases or ultimately, an incurable state, triple negative. We still don’t know why most African-American women have triple negative cancers and I think that’s something that we’re still trying to research and learn a little bit more about the behavior of. You know, cancers and why is it more prevalent in African-American communities, that I don’t have an answer to.